26 February 2008

This is a good place

I am often surprised and delighted by the generosity of people. As we worked away at the Centre yesterday, a woman, who I interviewed recently to work as a volunteer, came in to help us pack. She is an older lady and she worked harder than all of us. Another woman brought in packing boxes for us to use. Almost everything has been packed for our move now, we just have to pack up what is in the room the Flexischool uses, defrost the freezer and fridge, take all the notice boards and blinds down and clean up. Many hands really do make light work.

Built in the 1930s, the cottage was formerly the home of the town's first librarian. She lived there with her family for many years and died last year in her 90s.

I had a cleaner come in to deep clean the empty cottage for us. After lunch Bernadette and I went over to check how she was going, found she'd done a wonderful job and that the technicians were working on moving our alarm system over. The electrician will be back today to finish off his work and then all is set for our move tomorrow. There is one hitch - it's raining and there is a forecast of more rain tomorrow. No matter, we're all really excited about moving, soon all memories of the hard work will fade and we'll happily settle into our new space.

There is a very old avocado tree over the driveway that we'll have to cut back. A new drive way and car park will go in next week.

I have been working voluntarily at the Neighbourhood Centre since August 2006, have been the co-ordinator since about mid-way through last year and I'm still surprised at the number of people who drop by with a TV they don't need, an old computer, a piano, or whatever. Just last week I received a cheque for $1000 from a couple in another State who have been reading about us in the local newspaper that is posted to them. For some reason, that Centre attracts generous and optimistic people who see the good in what we're doing and want to give of themselves or something material. It's wonderful to be a part of that.

Hydrangeas growing along the side of where the Flexischool will be.

From my own experience, I have noticed that generosity is never static. Once in motion, generosity keeps bouncing back to you. It creates a kind of circle and when you give freely and with an open heart, that circle will be completed by something coming to you. Something happens when you give to others. I think it might be similar to what happens when you declutter and open space up for good things to come in. When you give, you open a space for something to be returned. I wonder if others have found this to be true.

Here is the old glasshouse with the compost bays next to it. You can't see it in the picture, but the glass house has a glass roof, louver windows all round and lots of benches inside for seedlings and plants.

Hanno is coming to work with me today to do some heavy work. There will just be Bernadette, Hanno and myself working there but I'm sure we can finish off what has to be done. There is something to be said for new beginnings, even when there is a lot of work attached to them. I see our new cottage as being a good place to nurture the disadvantaged folk in our community. It has a kitchen where we can cook hot meals for the homeless; we'll be able to make hot scones for mornings teas when people come to visit; we'll have a quiet and calm garden to take those who need to relax and reflect. There is even an old glasshouse, a green house and compost bays next to old, long dead vegetable gardens. We're going to hold a few permaculture classes there and grow vegetables for our food bank.

This is a good place.



  1. The new neighbourhood house looks wonderful Rhonda! I hope the move goes smoothly and you don't get too wet. I wish I lived closer as I'd be signing up for the permaculture classes :)
    Good luck

  2. That looks wonderful Rhonda! If only Canadians could take a page out of your book! Granted our community did get a brand new facility within the last few years, but not nearly as lovely or as tranquil as what you have there. Perhaps our needs differ?

    Just out of curiosity, does your centre deal with a specific sector of society, for example, only adults or only children. Or is it any person in need of services?

    By the way, love the Hydrangeas. Reminds me of Spring :)

  3. a good place, indeed! work well...

  4. Hi Rhonda Jean :) What wonderful pictures - you allow us to see and to dream right along with you all the wonderful things that will come from the hard work you're all doing this week. Love, Q

  5. That looks like it has a lot of potential, I'd love to Live there, not just work there. Hope the move goes well.

  6. brilliant venue. As Maggie says - it's tranquil, and what more can you ask for than tranquillity...(other than the odd $1000 cheque). Lisa

  7. The place looks absolutely beautiful. I do beleive that what you put out you reap back ten fold so keep up the excellent work and thanks for helping people that are disadvantaged. When I get a bit more finacial I want to get an acre and build my own home and then build a little cottage and get tired mums to come for a free weekend away from the children, phones and the hectic lifestyle that they lead it will cost them nothing all they need to do is bring a bit of food for themselves.

  8. It sounds like a wonderful place Rhonda. I'm curious though about the flexischool? What is that?


  9. That looks like a beautiful place to 'work'. I'm excited for you!!

  10. Hi everyone, thank you for sharing my excitement about the move.

    Maggie, the Centre was set up in 1993 in response to youth suicides in the town. Now we help everyone who walks through the door, from homeless youth to retired dairy farmers. We give food, advice, free counselling, referral to government services, youth programs and the Flexischool.

    Tamara, the Flexischool is a small school for students who don't "fit" into our normal high school. We have up to about 12 students, two teachers and a teacher aide.

    26 February 2008 17:41

  11. What a lovely place. I'm so glad for you and the people whom you serve!

    Unless you've ever been down on your luck or been homeless, you have no idea what a few minutes of being treated like a person, not a problem can do to help restore hope and a positive perspective.

    I spent 6 weeks at a home for battered women and their kids. I appreciate the help that was extended to me. At the time, I had a 5yo dd, a 2yo ds and an 5m dd whom was still nursing. It was the scariest thing I've ever done - and I was in the military, I lived in a 3rd world country as a missionary and had been a paramedic in civilian life. I'd had guns drawn on me, people who wanted to hurt me, but this kind of fear was greater than all that! Because it wasn't fear for myself, but for tiny children who couldn't take care of themselves. Fear of not knowing how I was to take care of them and still be a decent mother to them. I was greatly blessed by my faith in God and help from the community that I live in and from the one I worship in.

    The place is beautiful and tranquil. The sort of place one needs to go to center themselves and gain hope that, not only is there a future, but that the future can be better than today.

    God bless you, your helpers and your dear Hanno for the support and dedication to those in need. And for not judging them to be "worthless" because they are in a bind today.

    Far too many people are closer to being homeless than they realize. An extended period of joblessness, a death, someone who is out to get you succeeds illegally. All can cause formerly productive citizens to be out in the streets. And once on the streets, it's hard to regain employment.

    Thanks for caring.

  12. What a beautiful place; it looks so serene. And you're so right about the circle of giving and receiving, but as you say, this only works if the giving is done out of true generosity and not to impress or specifically to receive.

    The hydrangeas are beautiful. Mine never look that good.

    Sharon J x

  13. How wonderful! What an asset your little center is to your community! My town needs something like this! Good luck with the move!


  14. Hi Rhonda,
    Thought it was about time for a comment...I so enjoy your blog all the way from Canada...
    Beautiful and tranquil place..
    You inspire me as we still await for spring here...
    Good Luck

  15. The cottage is lovely! I have been reading your page for a couple of weeks now and I enjoy it so much. My name is Cathy, I live in Florida and I am 46. So many of the lessons I learned in my young country upbringing have served me so well. I fear people do not know how to "make" it these days. Not the least idea of how to survive without electricity, or how to build a fire to cook outside. I have always been happy that I possessed a "pioneer" spirit. I wanted to let you know that yes it is "enough" as you wrote to live a simple life,BUT so much better if you share Rhonda. So many people today do not know the difference between a want and a need. They are bombarded daily with commercialism and the "keeping up with the Joneses" snydrome (notice the first syllable is "sin") Please keep writing. I am sure you are making a difference in the lives of others that some how "know" that there simply must be something "more" Love, Cathy

  16. Rhonda Jean,
    Oh, how very exciting! The cottage looks beautiful and in a short time I know that the gardens will begin to flourish again. What a nice change for you and the people you help. Good Luck, and I will be watching for pictures...it is so awesome to watch a project like this one blossom and unfold.
    Bye for now! Becky

  17. What a beautiful sanctuary for those in need, and how wonderful you are part of it.

    My best,

    Anna Marie

  18. Hi, Rhonda! I hope your move is going well. I really love your blog. Just started reading it recently, but I look forward every day to a new post.

    I've been reading through all the archives and I'm hooked. I tried your bread recipe last night and it turned out wonderful. I followed every step to a "T" and it rose beautifully. I was jumping up and down cheering b/c I've tried baking bread for YEARS and it's never worked. Your recipe (and step-by-step baking instructions) is golden!!

  19. Hi! I'm new!
    That place looks nothing like where I work!! Haha!
    It's beautiful!
    Can't wait to read more!

  20. Thanks everyone.

    Welcome to all the new readers. There are so many new people lately!

    Amy, thanks for letting me know about your bread. I love knowing that something I've written about has helped someone. Bread is one of the biggies, there'll be no stopping you now.

  21. Hi Rhonda,
    What a beautiful place to carry out the wonderful much needed work that you do.
    The centre is sure to prosper with such a kindhearted and wise person like you to co-ordinate it. You may think that your life is too simple to write about but I,m sure the many of your blog readers like myself would agree that you are a such a wonderful inspiration and a great source of encouragement and belief that the simple life is much more fulfilling and there are many people who aspire to live like this. I feel that it can be hard to adopt this lifestyle when there are so many people who live the materialistic way these days and with commercialism and marketing constantly bombarding us everywhere. I always felt like I was the only one who felt like life as you do. I feel like I am reading my own thoughts when I read your blog.
    Thank-you and kind regards from Liz

  22. Rhonda Jean, I found your blog the other day and love it! How nice it is to find a like-minded blogger!

    Congratulations on your move. We are planning to move in two months to be near my aging parents. A little daunting after living in this place for 30 years.

    As I work my way through your archives, I notice that Jewels from 'eyes of wonder' was one of your commenters and fellow swappers.

    I found her blog late last summer and loved it as well. Very inspirational. She went private soon after I began reading.

    Jewels if you are reading these comments, I would love to able to read your blog. You can contact me at cherishieldsatgmaildotcom.

    Thanks! Happy unpacking!


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